A front page article in Sunday's Sacramento Bee highlighted the closing of hundreds of recycling centers and the layoffs of hundreds of recycling workers under the state's Bottle and Can Recycling Law. The closings and job loses are in large part the result of nearly $500 million in consumer recycling funds that have been transferred to the State's General Fund to help close budget gaps. With the loss of funding, the Department of Conservation has ended funding of supermarket recycling, local government grants, conservation corps funding and all other ancillary programs.
With additional center closings this month and next, the total number of 'unserved' supermarket recycling sites is expected to top more than 600 by the end of the year. Additionally, local conservation corps, which have employed thousands of at risk youth in recycling and litter clean up work, have been forced to provide pink slips to hundreds of workers.
In October, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed legislation (SB 402) that would have expanded recycling and brought program expenditures and revenues back into balance.
Recently, several recyclers have filed suit against the state claiming that, contrary to the condition of the loans, beverage container recycling is being harmed by the shortfall. Several supermarket recycling sites have already closed and many more will follow.